Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sen. Murphy: ‘Putin Has Become a Bit Unhinged’ Image
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a Westport breakfast today the Russian leader Vladimir Putin “has become a bit unhinged” in his actions against the Ukraine. Addressing invited guests from Westport, Weston, and Wilton at the Westport Woman’s Club, Murphy, who has visited the Ukraine twice in the past six months, said he expected the United States this week to announce new sanctions on Russia. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 10:12 AM
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Murphy Recognizes Staples Young Democrats Image
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy today presented certificates of recognition to members of the Staples High School Young Democrats Club at a “pancakes and politics” breakfast at the Westport Woman’s Club, one of a series he is holding around the state. Murphy recalled that he was a member of the Young Democrats at Wethersfield High School and said it was instrumental in launching his political career. He said he would have been happy to present similar certificates to Young Republican Club members at Staples but was told no such club exists.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 10:07 AM
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Murphy Says He is Pushing Northeast Rail Investment Image
U.S. Sen Christopher Murphy (D-CT) (c) told a Westport breakfast meeting today that included local leaders that he is trying to build a new coalition in Congress to find innovative ways to increase funding to passenger service in the Northeast rail corridor. He said the key to Connecticut’s economic recovery is improved rail service to New York and Boston. He posed with guests (l-r) Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, former Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, and Westport Selectman Avi Kaner.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 10:02 AM
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Early Tax Returns Diminish Hopes for Big CT budget Surpluses

By Keith M. Phaneuf

As the April 15 tax deadline approached, speculation at the Capitol was that tax receipts would rise. The only question was, Would they grow modestly, or explode?

But early tax returns have weakened hopes for any explosion, and raised the specter of something worse: Are tax receipts on the decline again?

This helps explain why the launch of keno gaming in Connecticut remains very much under consideration by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and the General Assembly.

Through Monday, projected income tax receipts for April were running below budgeted levels by almost $108 million, or 10.2 percent.

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Posted 09:18 AM
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Westporters Among Top GOP Gov Group Donors

Two Westporters are among a dozen Connecticut donors who gave a total of $800,000 to the Republican Governors Association in the first quarter of 2014, money the state GOP hopes will flow back to its campaign to unseat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a vulnerable first-term Democrat.

With individuals and corporations able to make unlimited contributions, the money came from just six individuals and six companies, led by a $250,000 check from Linda McMahon, twice the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, according to a Connecticut Mirror analysis of IRS filings.

Westporter Thomas E. McInerney, the chief executive officer of Bluff Point Associates, a private equity firm based in Westport, gave $100,000. And David H. McCormick of Westport, the co-president of the Westport-based hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, gave $25,000 to the Republican group.

No one else from Bridgewater, including its billionaire founder, Ray Dalio, worth an estimated $14 billion by Forbes, gave to either the Republican or Democrat group.

More "Two Westporters Among Top GOP Gov Group Donors"

Posted 03:19 PM
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Metro-North Slammed for Fines, New Schedule

By Ann Radalet

Washington – Metro-North was slammed by Connecticut politicians today as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy criticized the passenger railroad’s new schedule, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal unveiled a study that showed the rail company paid more than $500,000 in safety-related fines in the last decade.

In a letter to Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, Malloy said he did not understand why the accident-prone railroad plans to add minutes to train times and reduce its target for on-time performance.

“Minimizing travel time is critical of riders of the New Haven Line and fundamental to my economic development strategy in Connecticut,” the governor wrote.

The Federal Railroad Administration imposed speed restrictions on Metro-North trains after a fatal derailment in the Bronx in December.

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Posted 08:29 PM
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

CT Senate Expands Patients’ End-of-Life Care Options

By Arielle Levin Becker

The Senate today passed a bill that would establish a process for people with terminal illnesses to document the sort of end-of-life care they want in a medical order for health care providers to follow. People who work in emergency medicine say it’s needed to address shortcomings in the options people currently have for making their wishes known.

The measure, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has indicated he supports, now goes to the House.

What does the bill do?

The bill would let the state Department of Public Health create a pilot program for the use of “medical orders for life-sustaining treatment,” or MOLST, a process in which terminally ill patients discuss their options with a health care provider, determine the type of end-of-life care they want, and document it in a medical order.

Patients would be able to outline choices that include whether they would want only treatment that provides comfort, limited interventions such as antibiotics, or full treatment that could include intubation and intensive care.

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Posted 08:22 PM
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GOP Budget Scraps Malloy’s Gimmicks, Rebate

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Minority Republican state legislators today pitched an alternative budget that weeded hundreds of millions of dollars out of gimmicks from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan and canceled the governor’s controversial rebate. Image
State Sen. Robert Kane, House and Senate GOP leaders Lawrence F. Cafero and John P. McKinney (l-r) and other Republican legislators (background) unveil their budget plan for 2014-15. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

But while the GOP plan also offers tax modest relief for consumers, businesses and retirees, it raises $120 million in taxes on working poor families and scraps $45 million in new assistance for the merged public college system.

“This is an honest approach that eliminates the ugly gimmicks and ‘techniques’ that have been employed (by Malloy and the Democratic majority) to balance the budget only on paper,” said House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero, R-Norwalk.

“Reversing the negative impact of years of gimmick-filled tax-and-spend budgets passed by the Democrats won’t happen overnight,” added Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield. “But we have to start somewhere. This is a responsible step in that direction.”

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Posted 03:55 PM
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House OKs $400M Tax Break for UTC Expansion

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Connecticut moved one step closer today toward providing up to $400 million in tax breaks to United Technologies Corp. to trigger a major UTC investment in its research, training and corporate facilities.

The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to implement the deal, which was negotiated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and hailed as an essential move to preserve Connecticut’s aerospace and engineering knowledge base. It now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

And while the measure, which passed 134-4, drew broad support from both parties, minority Republicans cited the hefty cost to the state as a sign that Connecticut’s business climate – and particularly its tax structure – has become very unfriendly.

“The purpose of this bill is to be a jobs-retention bill,” said Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Guilford, co-chairwoman of the tax-writing Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

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Posted 02:59 PM
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Himes Outpaces GOP Rivals in Campaign Fundraising

By Ann Radalet

Washington—Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, has outpaced his GOP rivals in campaign fundraising, pulling in $367,000 in the first three months of 2014. His campaign reported more than $1.4 million in cash on hand March 31.

Republican challenger Dan Debicella, who began fundraising in the fall, raised nearly $205,000 in the first quarter of the year and ended the reporting period with $346,552 in his campaign coffers, the latest filings with the Federal Election Commissions shows. Although that’s much less money than Himes’s campaign has on hand, it’s enough for Debicella to mount a vigorous campaign.

Former Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson, who represented the 5th District until being unseated by now-Sen. Chris Murphy, donated $250 to Debicella’s campaign, and Steve Obsitnik, who ran unsuccessfully against Himes two years ago, gave $500.

But so far, none of the GOP gubernatorial candidates have donated or even endorsed Debicella, although Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti did before joining the race to unseat Gov. Dannel P.Malloy.

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Posted 07:56 PM
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McKinney Promises ‘Deference’ to Gun-Control Repeal

By Mark Pazniokas

Sen. John P. McKinney, a Republican who helped pass a bipartisan gun-control law after the Newtown school massacre in his district, tells a conservative audience in a video Democrats posted today that he would not block the law’s hypothetical repeal if elected governor.

McKinney, one of six candidates for the GOP nomination [and whose district includes part of Westport], made the statement Tuesday night to the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots voters in northeastern Connecticut, where the Newtown law is seen as an overreach by many voters.

In a video posted by Democrats, who routinely send a video tracker to record Republican candidates at public events, McKinney was asked by someone off camera how he would react to a repeal bill: “If you were elected governor, would you sign that?”

“If the legislature repeals something I think the governor owes great deference to what the legislature does, and I would,” McKinney said.

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Posted 03:38 PM
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Politics and Policy: Malloy Announces Transportation Improvements

By Mark Pazniokas

Waterbury – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flexed the powers of incumbency today in a rain-swept commuter lot by I-84. Malloy couldn’t stop the rain, but he could command a supportive audience of political, union and business leaders. Image
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy slips on a DOT rain slicker today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

One after another, they stepped to a microphone to thank the first-term Democratic governor, a candidate for re-election this year, for planned investments in transportation infrastructure, even if the pace of those investments has been a source of frustration to some on his guest list, who see a growing backlog of overdue projects.

The event was staged by one of the state’s most notorious commuter bottlenecks, a two-lane, 2.7-mile stretch of I-84 on the approach to Waterbury from the east. A third lane will be added in both directions at an estimated cost of $400 million to $450 million, with the project going to bid in June. [Other announced improvements were rehabilitation of the Merritt Parkway in Stamford and operational improvements on I-95 in Norwalk.]

“Connecticut is moving again,” Malloy said.

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Posted 06:36 PM
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Friday, April 11, 2014

GOP Gov Candidates Debate Guns, Taxes, Corruption and TV Shows

By Arielle Levin Becker

The five Republican candidates for governor who faced off in a debate today signed a pledge to treat each other with respect, and they did: The jabs were reserved for the man each hopes to replace, first-term Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Image
Five Republican candidates for governor debated at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Above them on the wall was a Twain quote: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Arielle Levin Becker/ photo

Their answers varied more in degree than broad strokes on questions ranging from taxes to corruption to—with one exception—gun-control legislation. They favor local control in education over the new Common Core state standards and reducing state spending and taxes. (They consider Malloy’s proposed $55 tax rebates to be a gimmick.)

One of the widest divides came in their answers to a question about their favorite TV show. (One favors programs featuring zombies and meth dealers; another said her parents prohibited television because they thought it ruined the brain.)

Still, their answers revealed differences in how the candidates hope to position themselves in advance of the GOP’s May 17 nominating convention.

The debate, held at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, was sponsored by The Hartford Courant and FoxCT, and will be televised at 10 a.m. Sunday.

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Posted 10:10 PM
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As Curtain Goes Up, Rowland Promises a Different Ending

By Mark Pazniokas

New Haven – The last time was different. John G. Rowland arrived with an entourage, a cordon of protectors at his sentencing a decade ago. Awaiting him then were political activists intent on a last word with their toppled governor. A guy in a mask waved a sign, “See ya in Hell, Johnny.” Image
John Rowland leaves the federal courthouse in New Haven today with one of his attorneys. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Douglas Healey for

Today, Rowland was more an object of media curiosity than public scorn. Connecticut’s 86th governor was the first to win three four-year terms, the first to resign in the face of impeachment, and the first to go to prison. But this is the second time he climbed the steps to the U.S. Courthouse here to keep an appointment with a judge.

The curtain was going up on what his lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, promised will be a different show, a new story that ends with a trial and a verdict, not a negotiated plea. Rowland was here to be arraigned on new charges in connection with what authorities say was his soliciting two congressional campaigns in 2010 and 2012 to secretly pay him as a political consultant.

“We will have an aggressive challenge to these charges,” Weingarten told reporters. “We are looking forward to it. Most of all we are looking forward to this trial, and we fully expect our client to be fully vindicated.”

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Posted 06:38 PM
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former Gov. John Rowland

By Mark Pazniokas

A federal grand jury today indicted John G. Rowland on seven counts, accusing the former Republican governor, congressman and conservative radio host of conspiring with a congressional candidate and her husband in 2012 to hide his role as a consultant to her campaign. Image
John Rowland as Connecticut governor. photo

The indictment charges Rowland in connection with his efforts to establish sham consulting deals with two Republican congressional candidates seeking his old 5th District seat in 2010 and 2012. Mark Greenberg rebuffed him in 2010, but Lisa Wilson-Foley agreed to secretly pay for his help.

Rowland will be arraigned Friday at 2:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in New Haven, where he pleaded guilty to a corruption charge in 2004 and was sentenced in 2005.

Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty March 31 to conspiracy and identified Rowland as their co-conspirator. By week’s end, Rowland had signed off as radio host to await indictment.

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Posted 06:36 PM
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